It occurred to me the other day that most of the world probably doesn’t understand that the sport of roller derby is NEEDED by some of us. I was out running yesterday with our strange little dog Mrs. Chuggerton, who decided to chase something and wound the leash around my ankles; causing me to fall.
It was pretty funny, actually because it was SO OK. Falling felt like slow motion and I thought “Oh, here I go” on the way down; then I gently rolled into the gravel. People walking by were mortified and rushed over to help. I stood up, knees bleeding (after calling Chuggs a little F*&K) and told the onlookers I was OK. REALLY, ….this is REALLY ok.. seriously.
What I didn’t tell them was that this was NOTHING compared to the usual falls. It hit me that it might be strange for someone my age to not only not mind falling onto the ground, but sort of actually.. enjoying it.
When I was growing up I had two older brothers, no sisters, and a bunch of boys in the neighborhood along with a throng of boy cousins. I lived to wrestle, climb trees, play football and baseball and cried when I got a doll on Christmas morning one year.
Girls weren’t allowed to play on boys sports leagues then and I remember sitting at baseball games with my mitt, seething because I knew I was a better pitcher than the kid out there but I couldn’t play. I had to settle for girl’s softball, which became a favorite sport and I’ve played it more often than not each season over the years as an adult.
I’m trying to start a recreational league for roller derby now. I was very lucky to get to play with Rat City on the Sockit Wenches with my daughter the fabulous Miss Fortune. Then I was even luckier to get to play with the Tilted Thunder Rail Birds, a new banked track league who are building their track in Seattle. I got to skate on a banked track only a handful of times over the past year but got a lot of flat track time in. Plus I had the opportunity to meet some of the most awesome ladies that I could ever hope to meet. Leaving was not an easy choice but had to go, and I trust the universe on this one.
What I did get to do (which is the best thing of all) was realize that I could GET STRONGER at age 53, then at age 54. That truly astounded me and inspired me to share it; though I’m not sure that everyone else really knew how amazing that part was for me. Derby became parallel to my life- getting knocked flat then jumping back up; over and over and over.
The meaning of derby started to shift for me and started to feel like a bigger purpose. Maybe I’m a person who lost her marbles but I’m ok with that. To champion the cause of roller skating at age 54 is something I never thought I would be doing, but there you have it. The experience for me has been not only life- altering, it has been life-saving. So what the hell!? Why NOT take this on as a cause and help bring it to others who might benefit? I know that I can, and beyond that I have an odd sense that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’m SO compelled to share my excitement about the benefits of skating I NEED to find a way to bring it to more people; to the community. I know I want to keep skating as long as my body will let me, and I know I need to do it on a recreational league.
A recreational league could allow skaters to come for the exercise or come for the social experience and they could be in different groups. It could open the sport up to men, juniors and co-ed or people who just want to learn.
I guess what I love about the sport of roller derby is; the enthusiasm, the mentoring, the striving. What I don’t like is the exclusivity of it in its current state and the way that it can leave a lot of people wondering if they are “ok” or good enough somehow. To have something THIS fun and this spectacular and tell people that they can’t do it just doesn’t seem right to me.
If someone wants to do the work and rise to the top GREAT!! If someone doesn’t that’s GREAT TOO! They just won’t necessarily be skating in the same group as each other. Then they can all go home to enjoy their families.
So I’ll keep on with this crazy journey.